President Dilma Rousseff faced the Brazilian Senate Monday to answer questions during her impeachment trial. Rousseff is accused of doctoring accounts to hide a budget shortfall ahead of her re-election in 2014. Rousseff was also the chairwoman of the state oil company Petrobras during many of the years of an alleged multimillion-dollar kickback scheme. Dozens of the country’s leading businessmen and politicians have been embroiled in that scandal.
The decision to impeach Rousseff came after about 20 hours of debate in the Senate. Fifty-five of the members of Brazil’s upper house voted in favor of the motion to impeach Rousseff last Thursday. Twenty-two voted against the measure. Rousseff has been suspended from all official duties and was barred from attending the Olympic torch lighting ceremony when South American nation hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
During her 30-minite speech, she said that at every moment she has followed the constitution and done what was best for the country. Rousseff insisted she had committed no crime and called the impeachment an attempt at a power grab by her rivals. She said, “I don’t fight for my term for the power, but I fight for the democracy for truth and justice and the people of my country.”
Her appearance came on the fourth day of the trial and comes a day or two before the Senate votes on whether to oust her from the presidency. Several hundred of her supporters demonstrated outside Congress as she arrived. The final vote is anticipated Tuesday. The final vote to impeach must be ratified by a two-thirds majority of senators, or 54 votes.
Rousseff was elected Brazil’s first female President in 2010. In 2014, Rousseff was re-elected by a narrow margin. The tide of opinion appears to be against her. According to recent polls, her approval rating has been hovering around 10 percent, down from 15 percent in April. The appearance before the Senate is widely expected to be her last public address.
She has been replaced by her former deputy, Michel Temer. If she is impeached, Temer will become the country’s new president until the general election in 2018. The Cabinet that Temer put in place in May has been roundly criticized for being all white men in a country that is more than 50 percent non-white.
Some of the lawmakers investigating her are currently under investigation for corruption. Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the lower house of Congress who launched process against her, is also facing numerous changes of corruption. Three of Tener’s ministers were forced to step down within a month of taking office because of allegations of corruption.